The Arrows team could be for sale to the highest bidder as team boss Tom Walkinshaw looks to return it to the front of the Formula One field.
The Scot has reportedly called in investment bankers HSBC to oversee the quarter share formerly owned by Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim, in an attempt to source the funding he feels is required to take Arrows to the top. Ibrahim's involvement, which began during the last close season, was designed to fulfil this aim, but came up short after his t-minus brand project failed to attract sufficient investment.
"He came in thinking he could do a lot of things on the marketing and investment side," Walkinshaw said, "but, at the end of the day, he was not able to do them. I don't think he appreciated the intensity of Formula One before he became involved in it."
HSBC, already a major partner in the Stewart team, has apparently been approached by interested parties from as far afield as Japan and the United States, while car builder Toyota will undoubtedly have reacted positively to the news as it seeks an entry to Formula One in the near future. Other potential entrants, such as Zakspeed and former March boss Robin Herd, are also rumoured to be interested in the team.
Although initial deals are designed to focus on disposing of Ibrahim's 25 per cent stake, co-owners Walkinshaw and the Morgan Grenfell bank have hinted that they would be willing to sell their shares of the team (thought to be around 25 and 45 per cent respectively) should the right offer be received. The team is currently valued at £100million.
News of the impending sale comes just days after Walkinshaw announced that he was intent on raising Arrows' performance next season. The team has secured a supply of Supertec engines from Flavio Briatore's company for 2000 and has stopped developing the recalcitrant A20 to concentrate on perfecting next season's challenger.